MargaretFuller deserves to be regarded as a transcendentalist alongside otherimportant social reformers in the 19thCentury such as Ralph Waldo and Henry David because of her centralrole in advocating for women rights. Fuller articulated the issueswhich affected women in the society in a way that depicted herhigh-quality education, experience, and the pursuit of literatureindependence. Transcendentalism believed that goodness was theinherent nature of human beings. However, this nature had beencorrupted by institutions and the ineffective social systems. Theyalso believed that people were most productive when independent. Acritical analysis of Fuller’s arguments on equal treatment forwomen reveals that she sought to facilitate the independence of womenby convincing people to suspend their traditional thinking processesand look at the situation from a humanity perspective. Therefore,this essay seeks to discussthree arguments that Margret Fuller makes for the equal treatment ofwomen in the society of her day.
Muchof Margaret Fuller’s argument regarding the equal treatment ofwomen in the society originates from her book, Womanin the Nineteenth Century.In the book, Fuller maintained that America had failed to illuminatewhat has been the greatest moral law in the history of mankind, whichall people were created equal and should be treated equally (Fuller,1999). As a result, the society allowed the oppression of women insome ways, including denying them the opportunity to participate onsimilar levels as men. The society had allowed men to dominateunfairly over political and economic systems, thus making itdifficult for women to access education and employment which wouldfacilitate their independence. One of the arguments for the equaltreatment of women in the society as propagated in the book is thatmen need to understand and embrace divine love if they were toinherit the earth (Fuller, 1999). Coming from a Unitarian background,Fuller maintained that equality between men and women would onlyoccur if men embraced divine love and began to treat women right andjustly.
Divinelove, in this context, is the love for all humanity regardless ofpeople’s statuses. If men love women, they should allow them topursue independence within the society. According to Fuller (1999),women can only achieve equality if they have access to enlightenmentand religious participation. Secondly, Fuller makes a case for womenby stating that laws are flawed because they allow men to perceivewomen as their inferiors. In fact, men disregard anyone who is notlike them as manifested in the treatment of African Americans andNative Americans in the 19thCentury (Fuller, 1999). She further argued that there was a time whenAmerica was a great nation. There was a period when the country wasconscious regarding how people were treated. People were regarded ashuman beings who deserved fair and equal treatment before anythingelse. However, European’s wickedness corrupted the goodness ofAmericans and hindered the nation from pursuing equality.
Asa result, people started viewing men as the head and women as theheart of institutions rather than equal partners (Fuller, 1999).Women have always come second in most places, not because they areunable to perform effectively, but since the system in place did notgive them equal opportunities as the ones granted to men. In thiscontext, equal treatment of women would bring divinity andfulfillment of both the lives of men and women. Fuller explored thepast incidents where both males and women participated on the samelevel. For instance, there were both men and women Saints inChristianity in the past. Therefore, women can be allowed to takepart on similar platforms as men if the social and politicalstructures can be redressed. What women need is not the power to behappy or poetry, because they can find them (Fuller, 1999). What theyneed is access to education, political participation, and employmentto redress the natural law. She further asserted that there was noreason why women could not access education because men and women arethe same in all aspects except their biological construction.
Also,Fuller made a strong case for the equality of women by stating thatfacilitating the independence of women was essential in redressingthe political and social structures and institutions which havepermitted other forms of discrimination to occur (Fuller, 1999).Allowing women to participate on the same levels as men when it comesto education and religious freedom would facilitate the existence ofnew ideas on how to manage social and political systems. She claimedthat America had not reached the level it was intended to achievebecause of the mistreatment of women (Fuller, 1999). America hadforgotten what made it a great nation in the past and adopted thecorrupt ways of the countries in Europe. Having been invaded byEuropean countries such as Britain, America’s ideals had beencorrupted, thus permitting social injustices such as discriminationto prevail in the society.
Aspart of the solution to redress the inequality problem, Fullersuggested that the country’s founding democratic and spiritualideals could be used to refresh the political and social spheres,thus allowing the equal participation of everyone in the societyregardless of their diversities (Fuller, 1999). These ideals wouldinform the formation of constitutional frameworks which would notonly be effective, but also give everyone equal opportunity to pursueindependence through intellectual processes and the freedom toparticipate in politics and get employment. She also demonstratedthat females could handle difficult tasks by taking part inmale-dominated roles. For instance, she was a news correspondentduring the war in the 19th Century. Typically, people would havethought that being a news reporter during the war would have been atask which could only be successfully undertaken by men. Therefore,by participating in such difficult tasks, she demonstrated that womenwere not inferior to men and that they could also undertake suchtasks and deliver exceptional results.
Thebook, “Woman in the Nineteenth Century,” provides a platform forunderstanding Margaret Fuller’s arguments regarding equality ofwomen in the society. Throughout the book, three lines of argumentfeature predominantly. Firstly, Fuller argues that men should embraceand practice divine love if they are ever to control the world.Divine love would allow them to treat women as their equal partners.The second argument is that the systems were flawed, thus permittingthe treatment of women as slaves rather than equal partners insocial, economic, and political development. The third argument isthat women’s independence can facilitate the existence of multipleideas which are essential in redressing the flawed social andpolitical systems which have permitted the unequal treatment ofpeople based on diversity. Everyone must be independent for fulldemocracy and maturity to occur.
Fuller,M. (1999). Womanin the nineteenth century.Mineola, NY: Dover Publications